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Media Release - 26 April 1995

Australia Lone Objector To Global Lead Petrol Phase-Out

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Australia is the lone objector to measures that would speed up the world-wide phasing out of lead in petrol and other consumer products, according to Elizabeth O'Brien, National Coordinator of The LEAD Group.

"At the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, which concludes in New York on April 28, the Australian delegation, has raised transparent objections to the proposed additional wording for the decision document, which will be issued by the Commission", said Ms O'Brien.

"The Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) is one of the outcomes of the Rio Earth Summit of three years ago, which some commentators have criticised as a continuation of the talkfest. The proposed global phase-out of leaded petrol, without increasing aromatics, and preferably through the use of biomass ethanol, is being hailed by NGO observers at the UN, as the first real actionable decision on the part of participating nations, as opposed to general statements about the environment unbacked by real commitment."

"This is why the actions of the Australian Ambassador for the Environment, Penny Wensley, and her team, in raising what are piffling and nit-picking objections to the statement calling for a phase-down of lead in petrol, are so disappointing", said Ms O'Brien.

Ms O'Brien said that, as well as petrol, the phase-out would apply to lead in paint, in food and beverage containers and drinking water, if the Australian Environment Minister, John Faulkner, can, in the final days of the CSD Meeting, turn around the growing concern of other nations, that Australia bows to domestic vested interests on environmental matters.

"It is a great pity that Australia, which acted so decisively at home in the past - for example, being one of the first countries to legislate for all new vehicles to run on unleaded petrol after 1986 - should now appear in the international arena as blocking decisions with such significant implications for public well-being, particularly that of millions of young children", she said.

Contact: Elizabeth O'Brien ph (02) 9716 0014, fax (02) 9716 9005.      ###

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